By Oge Okafor
For most corporate organizations and during some events held across Nigeria, tea break is the most sought-after time of the day. This is because this time frame affords employees, participants and organizers the much needed opportunity they love to take a break from work stress. It could also mean an escape route from so busy a schedule and leisure.
Being the most consumed drink across the globe after water; tea alone embraces the entire aura to gather a group of people around it. Be it for a casual breakfast, morning meetings, or simply socializing at workplace, tea and coffee breaks indeed are essential to establish work life balance alongside a great work culture.
Remember, tea culture is defined by the way tea is made and consumed, by the way the people interact with tea, and by the aesthetics surrounding tea drinking. It includes aspects of tea production, tea brewing, tea arts and ceremony, society, history, health, ethics, education, and communication and media issues.
Nigeria has over the years become a tea drinking country as people have come to realise the health benefits of drinking tea and the variations with which tea can be taken. We are gradually adopting a tea drinking culture so much so that we have also imbibe the tea break tradition as can be dated as far back as one could remember. This is how the tea break culture came to be.
Origins of the Tea Break
Tea breaks remain an important part of office life today but it all started at the turn of the 19th Century. According to some scholars, tea contributed substantially to the British lifestyle during the Industrial Revolution. Workers would typically start their day at around 5 or 6 a.m, so employers would let them have a break in the morning to eat and drink tea. It was seen as a way to boost productivity and some employers also repeated the break in the afternoon. Afternoon tea potentially turned into a strategy to motivate the workers working on hourly basis in factories. Sugary snacks accompanied the stimulants in the tea as an encouragement to complete the day’s effort. Not only the workers but also some employers used to repeat tea breaks as a way to stay productive and energetic. Tea breaks now became a short rest from working and it is usually spent drinking tea or something similar.
At the time of the industrial revolution (1760-1820) employers wanted to put a stop to tea breaks as they thought that drinking tea and taking breaks made workers sluggish.
In 1840 the idea of afternoon tea was introduced by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. Anna found she was getting hungry around four o’clock. Lunch was at midday and dinner wasn’t served until eight o’clock so she asked for sandwiches, cake and tea to be served. She started inviting her friends to join her and soon, afternoon tea became fashionable amongst the upper and middle classes.
Thereafter, the British Empire spread its own interpretation of tea to its dominions and colonies, including regions that today comprise the states of Hong Kong, India, and Pakistan, which had pre-existing tea customs, as well as regions such as East Africa (modern day Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) and the Pacific (Australia and New Zealand) which did not have tea customs. The tea room is found in the US and UK. It would not be wrong to say that with the spread of the British Empire and Nigeria being a colony of British, that was how the idea of the tea break culture came to be in Nigeria.
Tea Breaks and Health
While several businesses consider tea break as an unnecessary expense, organizations of different countries have left benchmarks in creating a refreshing tea & coffee culture, that is one of the great tools to attract top talent from the all over the world and ensure work life balance within the organization.
A tea or coffee break, unlike the more formal lunch break is a short period of time when a worker can pop and get a drink, maybe have a quick chat with colleagues and just get away from the desk for a few minutes. In this country, workers are required by law to have at least one 20-minute break if they work for six hours or more a day.
This is to ensure an employee’s health and safety, especially in situations where they are using machinery or in other dangerous work environments. The tea break has also been shown to increase productivity. In a recent study 2,000 workers across the UK were asked about their tea breaks and it was discovered that 76 percent feel they’re too busy to take a proper tea break. Tea breaks used to be seen as an important social activity in the office but are now seen as a waste of productive time.
However, getting away from work for a short break has been shown to actually increase productivity in workers and not only that, the social aspect of the tea break can improve bonding with colleagues in the workplace and boost morale.
Traditional tea breaks are becoming less common as workers tend to grab food and drink on the go but it’s important that businesses take note of the benefits of the tea break. A short break every day can lead to a happier, healthier workforce.
►Material from: www.lawsupport.co.uk & www.thecareermuse.co.in